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Soul EyesSinger, songwriter and pianist Kandace Springs will release her debut full-length album Soul Eyes on Blue Note Records. Produced by Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein (Lizz Wright, Melody Gardot, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock), the album touches upon soul and pop while channeling her jazz influences as well as her Nashville upbringing. Kandace counts such stylists as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack and Norah Jones as her heroes, but as evidenced by Soul Eyes, Springs mimics none of them.
Kandace's journey to discovering her uniqueness didn't happen overnight. In fact, her 2014 self-titled debut EP had a decidedly contemporary R&B/hip-hop bent with production by Pop & Oak (Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Miguel). The EP was incredibly well-received and led to performances on Late Show With David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, as well as appearances at the Afropunk and Bonnaroo festivals.
Kandace was dubbed a "suave songstress" (Wall Street Journal), "a versatile and vital artist" (Afropunk), and "a vocal force to be reckoned with" (Okayplayer). Essence Magazine named her a New & Next artist and Interview Magazine made her their Music Discovery, writing that while "Hearing the word jazz might revert a listener's thoughts to the music of yesteryear...Up-and-comer Kandace Springs aims to change this notion. The singer, songwriter, and pianist blends elements of soul, jazz, and pop, producing a unique and modern twist on the genre that appeals to young and old listeners alike."
As amazing an experience as that was, as Kandace got ready to record her album she couldn't shake the feeling that she wasn't yet singing her true self. Conversations with her longtime producers Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers led to soul searching and rethinking her musical direction. Also during this period, Kandace attracted the attention of Prince, who heard her makeover of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" on the website Okayplayer. The music icon invited her to perform with him at Paisley Park for the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain. "He encouraged me a lot before I recorded this new record, especially during the time in which I was trying to figure out my sound," Kandace says. "He told me that I needed to do what comes naturally to me. He was absolutely right."
For Soul Eyes, Kandace continued working closely with Rogers and Sturken, but they also recruited Klein to help the singer bring out her distinctive artistic traits. "Larry wanted me to be free in the studio," she recalls. "I've been through a lot of other sessions in which the producer tries to take control of your sound. Larry was just like, 'Go in and play what you feel.' That ultimately led to the best outcome; he captured this record perfectly."
Klein praises Kandace as a "natural." "In this era, in which flash and hunger for fame is often equated with talent, she's that rare person who sings and plays because that is what she needs to do in life," he says. "When I first heard Kandace, I was sold after hearing one song. Her smoky voice coupled with a sense of phrasing way beyond her years, and her angular way of accompanying herself on piano grabbed me right away."
The eleven songs contained on Soul Eyes are a mix of Kandace's originals and co-writes as well as the jazz classic "Soul Eyes" and songs by Jesse Harris, Shelby Lynne, War, and others. The album features Kandace's playing piano alongside an illustrious cast of musicians that includes trumpeter Terence Blanchard, guitarists Dean Parks and Jesse Harris, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, organist Pete Kuzma, bassist Dan Lutz, percussionist Pete Korpela.1. Talk To Me
2. Soul Eyes feat. Terence Blanchard
3. Place To Hide
4. Thought It Would Be Easier
5. Novocaine Heart
6. Neither Old Nor Young
7. Too Good Too Last feat. Terence Blanchard
8. Fall Guy
9. The World Is A Ghetto$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Seeds From The UndergroundOver the course of a stellar career that has spanned more than 30 years, saxophonist Kenny Garrett has become the preeminent alto saxophonist of his generation. From his first gig with the Duke Ellington Orchestra (led by Mercer Ellington) through his time spent with musicians such as Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis, Garrett has always brought a vigorous yet melodic, and truly distinctive, alto saxophone sound to each musical situation. As a bandleader for the last two decades, he has also continually grown as a composer. With his latest recording (and second for Mack Avenue Records), Seeds From The Underground, Garrett has given notice that these qualities have not only become more impressive, but have provided him with the platform to expand his horizons and communicate his musical vision clearly. Seeds From The Underground is a powerful return to the straight-ahead, acoustic and propulsive quartet format that showcases Garrett's extraordinary abilities.
For Garrett, Seeds From The Underground is a special recording. It once again consists of all original compositions, and is truly an homage to those who have inspired and influenced him, both personally and musically. "All of these songs are dedicated to someone," says Garrett. "And the 'seeds' have been planted, directly or indirectly, by people who have been instrumental in my development."
With Seeds From The Underground Garrett has crafted a project that offers his appreciation while always making the listener aware of his band's skillful approach to melody, harmony and rhythm. From personal nods such as the opening track "Boogety Boogety," dedicated to his memory of watching western films with his father (the title refers to the sound of a galloping horse); "Wiggins," which references his high school band director Bill Wiggins; and "Detroit," an evocative, reflective composition about his hometown, and a celebration of mentor Marcus Belgrave; to his appreciation of some of his musical heroes on "J Mac" (Jackie McLean); "Haynes Here" (Roy Haynes); and "Do Wo Mo" (Duke Ellington, Woody Shaw and Thelonious Monk).
Melody, as a matter of fact, was a key element for the saxophonist when writing for the recording. "I wanted to focus on the melody," Garrett reflects. "I want people to remember what the melody is before we start improvising and on some songs I heard voices, the singing of the melody." This latter point is in evidence on the selections "Haynes Here," "Detroit" and "Welcome Earth Song."
Another notable component compositionally for Garrett on Seeds From The Underground is his approach to rhythm and meter. Over the past few years, one of the most popular and acclaimed groups that he has been a part of is the GRAMMY® award winning Five Peace Band, joining guitarist John McLaughlin, pianist Chick Corea, bassist Christian McBride, and drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Brian Blade. His participation in that band led him to experiment with writing in different meters. "Some of these songs are in odd meters; in my experience with John, we played some songs in odd meters, so I thought, this is a different way of writing songs," Garrett states. "So there is some of that approach here."
Garrett's current working band is very much up to the task on Seeds From The Underground. And like all successful bandleaders, Garrett knows what he wants musically and has formed a band that will best communicate his message (with implicit trust among one another). Bassist Nat Reeves is a rhythmic anchor and a long-standing member of Garrett's past aggregations. However, for this recording, Garrett thought a lot about the talents of fellow Detroiter, drummer Ronald Bruner, as well as Venezuelan pianist Benito Gonzalez. "When I decided I wanted to do the album, I had Ronald in mind; I thought that he would work well on these songs. And Benito has been in my band for a while, and we talked conceptually about how I hear the piano in the band. McCoy Tyner is my man, so I wanted to have more of that sound, and there aren't a lot of young guys around who are dealing with that like Benito is." Percussionist Rudy Bird also provides a driving, rhythmic pulse to the recording.
A very important contributor to Seeds From The Underground is the project's co-producer: pianist, composer and educator, Donald Brown. His friendship with Garrett goes back to their days with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers. He has been an integral part of past Garrett recordings, and has been a musical inspiration for him. "I feel comfortable in the studio with him and I know he's going to hear what I hear, because we think alike in how we hear music," states Garrett. "I've also always admired his compositions and he was really inspired by these compositions, so he was glad that we were able to hook back up on this project."
Garrett has always expressed interest in music from other parts of the world. Whether it's Africa, Greece, Indonesia, China or Guadeloupe, he immerses himself in the culture and gleans from his experience something that becomes a part of his artistic message. On Seeds From The Underground, the African-influenced "Welcome Earth Song" and "Laviso, I Bon?" (the latter was inspired by a musician friend in Guadeloupe) are prime examples.
The album highlights Garrett's overall approach to music: wide-ranging, receiving ideas from all musical sources and genres. Garrett states, "I love the challenge of trying to stay open about music and about life. If it's music, I just try to check it out. Right now I'm listening to some music from Martinique and I'm lovin' it. If I like it, maybe I can incorporate some of it into what I do." As for composing: "I don't try to control what I write," he says. "Music comes from 'The Creator.' It's a gift that's coming in, and I receive it. I write in all genres, and I'm writing all the time. It's never about what it is I just say thank you."
Seeds From The Underground is the latest stop on what continues to be a fascinating musical journey for Kenny Garrett and his listeners. It's a recording that is not only a significant personal statement from the saxophonist, but a musical declaration of his continued growth as a musician, and in particular, as a composer.1. Boogety Boogety
2. J. Mac
4. Haynes Here
6. Seeds from the Underground
8. Welcome Earth Song
9. Ballad Jarrett
10. Laviso, I Bon?$27.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
River: The Joni Letters (Awaiting Repress)The legendary pianist and innovator explores the words and music of another musical pioneer Joni Mitchell on his first new studio recording for Verve since 1998's GRAMMY® Award winner Gershwin's World. Inspired in equal parts by Mitchell's poetic lyrics and unique melodies/harmonies, the musicians play with a restraint and elegance that achieves a perfect balance between the adventurous aesthetics of jazz improvisation and the emotional directness of one of the finest singer/songwriters of the last five decades. On the album: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Lionel Loueke, Dave Holland & Vinnie Colaiuta with special guests Norah Jones, Tina Turner, Corinne Bailey Rae, Luciana Souza, Leonard Cohen & Joni Mitchell.1. Court And Spark (feat. Norah Jones)
2. Edith And The Kingpin (feat. Tina Turner)
3. Both Sides Now
4. River (feat. Corinne Bailey Rae)
5. Sweet Bird
6. The Tea Leaf Prophecy (Lay Down Your Arms) [feat. Joni Mitchell]
8. Amelia (feat. Luciana Souza)
9. Nefertiti (feat. Wayne Shorter)
10. The Jungle Line (feat. Leonard Cohen)
11. A Case Of You (Short Version)
12. All I Want$34.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Emotion And CommotionImport
For his first studio album in seven years, Grammy-winning guitarist Jeff Beck returns with an eclectic mix of tracks that find the guitar virtuoso accompanied by a handpicked cast of talented musicians, as well as several songs accompanied by a 64-piece orchestra. Beck recorded Emotion & Commotion late last year at Sarm Studios in London with award-winning producers Steve Lipson and Trevor Horn. To create the albums diverse sound, Beck used a number of musicians, including appearances by frequent collaborators Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Jason Rebello (keyboards), and Tal Wilkenfeld (bass). The album also includes contributions from a trio of singers: Imelda May (Lilac Wine), Olivia Safe (Elegy For Dunkirk), and Grammy-winner Joss Stone (I Put A Spell On You and Theres No Other Me).1. Corpus Christi Carol
3. Never Alone
4. Somewhere Over The Rainbow
5. I Put A Spell On You (feat. Joss Stone)
6. Nessun Dorma
8. Lilac Wine (feat. Imelda May)
9. There's No Other Me (feat. Joss Stone)
10. Elegy For Dunkirk (feat. Olivia Safe)$42.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
57th & 9thA&M/Interscope Records announces the release of Sting's new album, 57th & 9th, his first rock/pop project in over a decade.
57th & 9th represents a wide range of Sting's musical and songwriting styles, from the ferocious, Road Warrior-style imagery of "Petrol Head," to the anthemic, "50,000" and the raucous, guitar-driven first single, "I Can't Stop Thinking About You." The album was recorded with Sting's long-time collaborators Dominic Miller (guitar) and Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and includes contributions from drummer Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails, Guns n' Roses), guitarist Lyle Workman and the San Antonio-based Tex-Mex band The Last Bandoleros. Riding a wave of inspiration, 57th & 9th came together impulsively, with sessions completed in just a few weeks.
"It happened very quickly, very spontaneously," he says. "My idea always is to surprise myself and the people I'm working with-and, hopefully, the listeners."
The album, produced by Martin Kierszenbaum, takes its title from the Manhattan street corner that Sting crossed each day as he walked to the studios in Hell's Kitchen where the recordings were done. Sting notes that if there's a theme in the lyrics of 57th & 9th, it's the idea of travel and motion, most apparent in the autobiographical "Heading South On The Great North Road" and in "Inshallah," a first-person account of the global refugee crisis, written from a humanitarian point of view.
"It's about searching and traveling, the road, that pull of the unknown." he says. "On this album, we ended up with something that's energetic and noisy, but also thoughtful."1. I Can't Stop Thinking About You
3. Down, Down, Down
4. One Fine Day
5. Pretty Young Soldier
6. Petrol Head
7. Heading South On The Great North Road
8. If You Can't Love Me
10. The Empty Chair$25.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now